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"Jolt" 4K Review

 It's been a while since Kate Beckinsale has made an action flick. Her last Underworld entry, Underworld: Blood Wars, was five years ago and I don't recall seeing it; probably skipped it after the abomination which was Underworld: Awakening in 2012. I wasn't even aware she had a new movie out until the missus mentioned Jolt, which is not about the awesome Eighties cola with twice the caffeine of puny Pepsi or Coke, the latest Amazon Prime Original title. 

She stars as Lindy, a woman who as a child was diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder - which is a real psychological condition where the person has violent outbursts, not that they actually explode like the Marvel Comics supervillain Nitro. The only thing that can keep her rages in check is an electrode vest that she uses to shock herself into a state of lesser anger.

 Encouraged by her shrink, and the designer of the vest, Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci), to try and form some human connections to see if perhaps some love could chill her out, she goes on a date with Justin (Jai Courtney), an accountant who doesn't seem terrified of her skittish demeanor and charms her. After they hook up after their second date, Lindy is feeling better about life and controlling her temper than she's ever been. 

So it's pretty inconvenient that Justin turns up dead the next night they were supposed to get together. The police detectives on the case (Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox) don't think she's involved, but when she steals evidence from the police station, they're hot in pursuit of her as she sets out on her rampage to avenge her lover's death, finding herself getting close to some untouchable top dogs.

 Jolt squarely falls into the Big Dumb Noisy Fun genre. While its premise has been compared to the Jason Statham Crank films, it's just your basic action revenge flick (a la John Wick) with a mix of black comedy (her fantasies of brutally beating people are Grand Guignol) and a gender twist. People who want to bark about how implausible it is for even a rage-enhanced woman to beat up as many guys as she does are MISSING ALL THE POINTS. (I want to be there when they find out Hogwarts isn't a real school they can go to.)

What's unrealistic is the Generic American (or Maybe European) City atmosphere Jolt  has like how the police department logo just says "POLICE DEPARTMENT" without a city name, the lack of any recognizable chain stores or brand logos and how most of the streets look like backlots. The skyline shots aren't familiar either. (It was shot in Sofia, Bulgaria.) But what it does have is some slick neon-drenched style and the HDR cinematography gives some good highlight pop to the image.

 But even by the loose standards for this sort of movie, in the last 10 minutes or so the plot's wheels suddenly come off as we learn What's Really Been Going On and then the coda seems to be trying to set this up as a franchise. Come on, Hollyweird - not everything needs to be a series. Except John Wick. That can keep going forever (or until it becomes a clown show like F9 was). 

Beckinsale is fun and looks great at 47 years old (She turns 48 tomorrow.) Tucci is his usual fun self and even Courtney, whom I usually dislike, fills the bill until the plot sells him out. Director Tanya Wexler (niece of legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler and half-sister to Daryl Hannah!) does a respectable job of keeping the performances and action humming along and the script by newcomer Scott Wascha manages to not be too cliched, though why the bad guys have a lone man standing in the middle of a large courtyard as a receptionist may take style a tad far.

 Clocking in at a tidy 90 minutes, Jolt may not be much more than a fizzy triffle with a flat aftertaste, but while you're imbibing its caffeinated aesthetic, it's generally satisying.

Score: 6/10.  Catch it on Amazon Prime.


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